Western Victorian Koala Wipeout and its Relation to FSC Certification Schemes

On a recent communication our dear and worried friend the Koala bear, in light of the still on-going extensive deforestation rates in his home country, asks Wally Menne from Timberwatch (GFC’s Africa focal point), about Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification schemes. Wally replies and explains our good friend why FSC and other certification schemes DO NOT work and only serve as ways for ‘greenwashing’ environmentally harmful activities…

Koala – “I thought FSC would only certify plantations that were planted prior to 1993, the year of their founding. Has that changed”?

Wally – “I think there was once a time when the FSC promise not to certify post-1994 new fake forests (tree plantations), that displaced real forests, still had some takers. What I believe has subsequently happened is that this rule has been conveniently bent so that so-called “degraded” forests and other land areas including productive agricultural land and pristine grassland habitat have been targeted for new timber plantations, on the basis that they would automatically qualify for FSC certification.

Of course this completely ignored the fact that farmers, local communities and indigenous peoples who had been using that land for their subsistence would then be displaced into other areas, leading to further forest and grassland conversion and loss, not to mention resource conflict with other communities and the destruction of biodiversity. This is the same kind of effect as the so-called ‘leakage’ or ‘displaced deforestation’ that most REDD projects cause.

Have you never wondered why the timber/paper industry supports certification so strongly? Well it should be quite obvious that it serves their needs very well, because it lulls consumers and gullible greenies into believing that it actually protects forests, when in reality it has the opposite effect.
From a global perspective it is highly unlikely that FSC certification has actually helped to reduce deforestation at all, or even to improve tree plantation management. In reality it has rather just rubber-stamped and/or green-washed an overall increase in the wasteful consumption of timber in its various forms, together with all that goes with it in terms of habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change.
This green-washing has helped to artificially increase demand for both certified and non-certified wood and wood-derived products, including dissolving pulp, which in turn has driven the expansion of logging into previously intact forests, as well as to help justify the large-scale expansion of industrial tree plantations.
The Timberwatch report on tree plantation carbon sinks in Tanzania describes this problem in detail:
I believe the atrocious situation in South Australia as described in this new report by Anthony Amis and Susie Zent is much the same as that in many other countries where FSC has also helped make things worse”.
http://www.foe.org.au/sites/default/files/Forest%20Stewardship%20Council%20and%20Rainforest%20Management.pdf
Contact: wally.menne@globalforestcoalition.org
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